How to convert a PDF file for your Kindle

Technology

Recently, a friend sent me a preview of a book that she was about to have published and asked me to read it. I was delighted — but unfortunately, the copy she sent was formatted as a PDF file. And as many of us know, reading a PDF on a smartphone or even on an ebook reader is a recipe for eyestrain.

I spent a frustrating three days squinting at my screen until somebody reminded me that you can email a PDF file to your Amazon account, and it will convert the file to Amazon’s .Mobi format, making the document much easier to read on a phone or a Kindle.

It worked like a charm. There are a few quirks in the resulting document (no indents to indicate paragraphs and the occasional strange symbol), but it is much easier to read. If you ever find yourself faced with the same problem, here’s how to convert a PDF file so it can be easily read using a Kindle or Kindle app.

First, you have to establish two points of information: you need your special Kindle email address (to which you’ll be sending the file), and you need to make sure the personal email address from which you’ll be sending the file is verified by Amazon.

On your laptop or desktop:

  • Go to the Preferences tab on Amazon’s Manage Your Content and Devices page
  • Scroll down to and click on “Personal Document Settings”
  • Scroll down to “Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings.” This will show you the email addresses for any Kindle-enabled devices you have.
  • On the same page, scroll down to “Approved Personal Document E-mail List.” This will show you all of the email addresses that you can send from. If you don’t see your current email address, you can add a new one using a link at the bottom of the list.

You can also find your Kindle email address on your mobile Kindle app:

  • Go to the main page and tap “More” at the bottom-right corner
  • Select “App Settings”
  • Your Kindle address will be under “Send to Kindle Email Address”

Once those have been established, it’s very simple to send a PDF document to your Kindle or to a device with a Kindle app:

  • Create an email (using your approved email account) and attach your PDF file
  • Type “Convert” in the subject line
  • Address it to the Kindle address for the device you want to send it to. (If you have more than one Kindle-using device, note that each will have a different address.)

It may take a couple of minutes for the file to appear on your Kindle or Kindle-enabled device, but soon, you should have a Kindle version of your PDF file that you can bookmark, annotate, change the typeface and type size of, etc. Even with the glitches that will inevitably appear (most conversions are not perfect), you will end up with a far more readable document.